Thursday, July 21, 2005

County schools consider uniforms

Staff Writer

Marshall County School District is considering a new school uniform requirement that, if adopted, will not likely go into effect until next year.

The board of trustees received public input on the proposed new uniform policy at the July 12 meeting and expects to have a written description of the proposed uniforms at the August 9 meeting.

Trustees discussed calls for and opposed to a school uniform policy at last week’s board meeting.

Trustee Terry Rodgers said he has been approached by about a dozen people and most were positive about the school district requiring uniforms. Trustee Harvey Garrison said his contacts were also in favor of uniforms. Trustee Pat Woods said only one person has contacted him about uniforms, and trustee Queen Dean reported no calls.

Trustee Barbara Pipkin said she has had about 10 calls with about 50 percent in favor of uniforms and 50 percent opposed.

“Khaki is what they want,” she said.

Pipkin said some parents said they had already made arrangements for school clothes and could not afford to buy more new clothes before school starts this year.

Most board members were opposed to white shirts. Most wanted khaki attire and blue shirts.

Three adults and one student present at last week’s meeting voiced their opinions on uniforms.

Beverly Jones, who has two children enrolled at the Byhalia schools, said she is in favor of uniforms. Children do not have to worry about fashion pressure or decisions on what to wear, she said.

“The uniforms will take us a step forward,” she said.

Lena Shipp, employed at Henry Elementary, said she has looked back at school albums from the 1999-2000 school year when uniforms were required. She said students looked professional to people coming into the district.

“Test scores were up that year,” she said.

Shipp said she has talked to several people about uniforms coming back and most callers are concerned about the color selection. She recommended the uniforms not be mandatory on the first day of school, due to short notice.

Shipp believes uniforms will cut down on distractions at school.

Student Queen Dean, granddaughter to the trustee, said she believes school uniforms are a good idea.

“But I really don’t want them,” she said.

She asked for a free day or dress-down day at school.

Jerry Moore, with central office, said he believes uniforms will serve the schools well.

“The issue is just do it right,” he said. “If we institute it professionally, there is no reason for them (students or parents) to be upset.”

Superintendent Don Randolph suggested the board of trustees do a referendum to the entire community, presenting samples of uniforms and a time frame for implementation. He said the schools could provide a free, hand-me-down program where parents can donate uniforms their children have outgrown to parents who need uniforms for their children.

In other business, the board:

  • heard a summary of 2005 test scores from Jerry Moore. Test score results will be released to the public statewide on August 18. Moore said subject area test scores are good overall and there were no “pockets of embarrassment” this year. He promised “good news, really good news.”
  • learned that summer spruce-up at schools is mostly complete. The cafeteria at H.W. Byers, Henry and Mary Reid School is finished and paving at Mary Reid and Galena is completed, according to Randolph.

    A roof at Galena has been replaced.

  • discussed whether Potts Camp old gym should be repaired and kept or if it should be torn down.

    Rodgers recommended that construction engineers take a look at the gym and Pipkin agreed.

    Pipkin said some of the older ballplayers at Potts Camp are upset at the idea of tearing down the old gym and she wants it checked first.

    Pipkin said she favors making repairs, “if it can be repaired without spending a lot of money as opposed to spending a lot of money on an old structure that should be replaced.”

    The board voted unanimously to have the structure studied.

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